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    We're two avid DIY-ers raising two rambunctious boys while tackling large and small projects, living to share our tale. All with the hope to inspire and encourage others.

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    Apple crisp. Cuz if it feels like fall, it should taste like fall. @westelm currently has 20% off lighting. A few reader suggestions have me second guessing my dining light choice. Have you seen this fixture in person? If so, how would you describe the lighting? The curse of living in Montana with limited stores. It's currently 30 degrees with frost on rooftops, and a heavy blanket of fog. Feels like November. Late week forecast is back to 80's. How's your weather?

Box it Like it’s Hot

This project is a shameless West Elm knock off.  The Contrast boxes are fun and useful in nearly any room.

But, only the tray is available right now.  Hence the knock off.  I found the perfect wood while picking up some other supplies at Home Depot.  In the aisle with pre-cut sheets (varying thickness MDF, peg board, and plywood), I saw these 1/2 inch thick solid oak boards.  Only $2.50 per 1/2 inch by 5.5 inch by 2 foot board.


I grabbed three and started building when I got back home.  Using the width of the plank as my top and base, I cut two rectangles at 8 inches.  To create the sides, I cut mitered corners to fit around the base.  Not on top, as I did with my recent tray project.  So the inside of my long pieces were 8 inches, short sides at 5.5 inches.


This is where a pin nailer comes in very handy.  For each side, I’d brush wood glue on each corner or joint, hold it in place until square, and then shoot four or five 3/4 inch long nails in.


It leaves teeny holes, but holds everything together until the glue sets.  For my triangle lamps, I used this same method of nails and glue and they’ve held up perfectly.  Now, to deal with the recessed top.

West Elm’s version has a routered top, but I decided it would be quicker and just as effective to add little ‘posts’ to each corner.  After measuring the inside of the box, I subtracted a half-inch and glued them in.


My top is a 5.5 by 8 inch rectangle, allowing it to rest inside the frame, on atop the corner posts.  To accommodate the leather strap handle, I measured my leather.  At 3/16 thick, I cut a slightly larger slot by drilling holes in each end and connecting the pieces with a funky vibrating saw.


Before finishing, I sanded everything with fine paper.  Using stain and paint I already had, I finished the outside with stain, and the inside and top edge with paint.  Four coats of Polycrylic to protect everything and give a little shine.  For under eight dollars, I have a cute box to stash our junk on the coffee table.


It’s a nice wooden accent, but I’m worried it looks too tall.  Almost like a Kleenex box cover.  I might make a shorter one…


At any rate, it holds lotions, chapstick, nail clippers, and the boys’ toothbrushes.


The leather handle is a lot easier for the boys to open than the metal bin we had used.



I couldn’t think of a better way to attach the strap, so I stapled it to the underside of the cover.  I’m guessing West Elm attached their handle differently.  Haha.


A lower, longer box would be great to hold our remotes, too.  I could also use one in the bathroom for first aid supplies.

Scrap Pile Creations

When I get the urge to create something, usually my first step is to raid my supplies.  Be it fabric, paint, or in today’s case, our scrap lumber bin.  It starts with a specific need, but finding ways to use left over materials is a slight way to push myself creatively.  Much like my cedar tub shelf.  And both pieces I made add function to spaces.  For our living room, I built a large square tray to corral everything on the coffee table.


I started with a piece of 1/2 inch MDF that was 22 by 30 inches and an 8 foot strip of 1 1/2 inch wide 1/2 inch MDF.  I cut the 1/2 inch piece to 22 inches square and then four strips for the sides.  All trays are assembled the same way.  Thin base material with side material attached on top.  I used 1 inch staples in our air stapler to secure everything; undersides first, then corners.


Due to the nature of MDF, it bulged out and cracked along the edges.  I wasn’t concerned because I knew I’d fill it with putty and caulk.  After filling the cracks and staple holes with wood filler, I caulked the inside corners.



Sanding everything smooth was quick and evened out the bumps.


For durability, I used some white exterior paint.  After three coats, I took it outside to spray with clear gloss.  Two light coats in I noticed how the gloss had yellowed the finish.  Great.  I lightly sanded it again and did two more coats of white paint and called it a day.  Good enough, I can always repaint down the road.  To spare the table from damage, I added small rectangles of felt to the underside.  Clearly I didn’t care about the staples or paint drips on the bottom.


And now I’ve got a simple tray to keep magazines, remotes, and other crap (like the boys’ mini foods) organized.


Because their minis are so adorable, I used a wooden drawer organizer (it was actually a tiny shelf) to display the collection.


In other scrap pile happenings, I used a small chunk of left over cedar to make a shelf for our shower cubby.


Before assembly, I sanded all sides with 220 grit paper and drilled two pilot holes in each end of the top board.  Obviously this shelf is exposed to water, so I used stainless steel screws so it wouldn’t rust.  Once assembled, I coated it with teak oil for a protective layer.


The shelf holds a razor and bar soap, leaving more room on the bottom for bottles.  There, two quick and easy scrap projects that don’t cost a dime.

Chevron Leaves

Recently, I promised myself I’d bring more green and naturals into our house.  The bathroom is sporting a new lush look, why not add some to the living room?


Until now I had my quirky sit and stay text bubble pillows on the chairs:


Not at all natural, were they?  For a quick change, I pulled out a remnant of mossy green linen.  Great color, but alone it looked boring.


Inspired by nature, I stamped a leaf design.  Three cheers for new life to that side of the living room!  Look at my plants, too.  Four over there, including the finicky maiden hair fern.  I haven’t killed it.  In fact, it has a ton of new growth.  It’s a miracle!


After debating patterns (random, circles, lines) I settled on a chevron pattern.

To create the uneven texture, I used a piece of a foam to go box as a stamp.  Using a knife, I cut out a leaf shape.  A pencil tip worked perfectly to press light veins into the leaf.


Stamping was quick and I didn’t fuss over evenness of the paint or placement.



Green is good for my mood; it perks me and my home up.  Fun and fresh without being crazy or dramatic.



What’s your favorite color to decorate with?

Faux Real

I’m still changing things in the living room.  The triangle lamps I made just weren’t perfect in the room.  Quite honestly, they got knocked over a lot because the bases are very light weight.


I still love them, so they’re in our bedroom and out-of-the-way of little hands.  While dropping a few things off at the thrift store, I spotted this lamp for five bucks.


Instantly loved the shape, but not the design.  If it were only leaves, I think it would have looked beautiful.  The flowers and orange were too much for my taste.  So, I changed it up, inspired by pretty zinc lamps like this:

And this Zinc lamp from A Place in the Garden:

Before I could start spraying, I taped off the socket, cord and wood base.


Then gave the lamp two coats of gray primer, holding it upside down for the second to get the undersides.


To create the aged effect, I diluted white craft paint with an equal amount of water.  Using a 1/2 inch craft brush, I applied the mixture to 4 inch sections all around the lamp.  Don’t go for even here and let it puddle and drip.


I followed up with a very crumpled, slightly damp paper towel.  Lightly blotting pulled off the extra, but I left enough to look worn.


Here it is after it dried:


Liking the finish, I pulled the tape off and realized I didn’t want to keep the wooden base.  So I taped off the upper lamp and sprayed just the wood base gray.  After the faux finish, I had a zinc looking lamp that won’t tip over easily.


I also swapped the shade for a white drum I had for a sleeker look.


For added protection, I sprayed the lamp with three coats of clear matte.


For $5, I’m super happy with the look.  What do you think?  Have you tried a faux zinc finish?  Now to find the perfect floor lamp for the other side.

Souvenir Shelf

I’m sure you all love simple, small projects just as much as I do.  If you also like personal wall art, this is the easiest, most interactive thing you can do.  A vintage printer’s tray to display little trinkets and nature finds.


This idea is not my own, I fell in love with it in Lauren Liessbreakfast room:

Image via Pure Style Home

Seriously, I’m hard-core in love with her new house after seeing it in Domino.  How stunning is it?!?  She’s a Pure Style Genius.

Our boys are always finding little rocks, sticks, and other small items.  Before this, I had a full bowl on the coffee table.  Sadly, that didn’t show off the mini collection.  Instead, this showcases those treasures and becomes changing art.

After looking at local shops, I came home empty-handed.  I found a few small painted shelves, but I wanted something wooden and natural.  Etsy shop, The V Rose to the rescue.  My drawer is 32 by 16 inches and in great condition.

I completely copied Lauren by hanging Ben’s first deer antlers above, to fill the space a little more.


The tray adds nice texture to the bump out wall in the living room.


Original details, the metal front, numbers, and drawer pull, are just charming, too.  A simple tooth hook holds it up and then the boys helped me fill it up.


We’ve got rocks, sticks, feathers, bark, a fossil, souvenir pennies, shells from vacations.  Basically anything small enough to fit.


With room at the top, we can add to our collection and enjoy our finds.


Though we have jars of sand and other souvenirs from vacations, I think this is my favorite way to display a collection.  Imagine this in a kids room with Legos, doll house items, or small cars.  Endless options and easy to swap out.


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